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pterosaur fossils

Rare combination of single pterosaur fossils found in Japan

pterosaurs fossil pieces that were discovered in Nagasaki Prefecture

An extremely rare combination of fossils presumed to have belonged to a single pterosaur have been discovered here, the Nagasaki Municipal Government and the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum have announced.

Museum officials said on April 26 that about 15 fossil fragments, among which are parts of a lower jaw, an incomplete thigh bone and wing parts, were discovered in strata of the late Cretaceous Period (around 84 million years ago), in the western part of the Nagasaki Peninsula in southern Japan, in October 2009.

The fossil fragments, according to museum officials, come from the Azhdarchids species, a family of pterosaurs whose wingspan was estimated to have reached some three to four meters.

The recent unearthing of the fossils is remarkable, officials say, because this is the first time that different elements of a single pterosaurs specimen have been discovered together. Among about the 30 fossil pieces previously unearthed, all were individual body parts, including teeth and footprints.

According to officials, it is believed that pterosaurs bones had been extremely light and fragile, which adds to the rarity of discovering multiple pieces together.

The recent discovery also provides evidence to the theory that pterosaurs were commonly found in Japan in the late Cretaceous Period, museum officials say.

Pterosaurs are believed to have been the earliest flying vertebrate species in the world. This is the fifth time that Azhdarchids fossils have been unearthed in Japan.

The Mainichi - Newspaper April 27, 2012
source : mainichi.jp/english


(from the Greek πτερόσαυρος, pterosauros, meaning "winged lizard") were flying reptiles of the clade or order Pterosauria. They existed from the late Triassic to the end of the Cretaceous Period (210 to 65.5 million years ago).

Pterosaurs are the earliest vertebrates known to have evolved powered flight. Their wings were formed by a membrane of skin, muscle, and other tissues stretching from the legs to a dramatically lengthened fourth finger. Early species had long, fully toothed jaws and long tails, while later forms had a highly reduced tail, and some lacked teeth.

Many sported furry coats made up of hair-like filaments known as pycnofibres, which covered their bodies and parts of their wings. Pterosaurs spanned a wide range of adult sizes, from the very small Nemicolopterus to the largest known flying creatures of all time, including Quetzalcoatlus and Hatzegopteryx.

Pterosaurs are often referred to in the popular media and by the general public as flying dinosaurs, but this is incorrect. The term "dinosaur" is properly restricted to a certain group of reptiles with a unique upright stance (clade Dinosauria, which includes birds), and therefore excludes the pterosaurs, as well as the various groups of extinct marine reptiles, such as ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, and mosasaurs. Pterosaurs are also incorrectly referred to as pterodactyls, particularly by journalists. "Pterodactyl" refers specifically to members of the genus Pterodactylus, and more broadly to members of the suborder Pterodactyloidea.

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